GLOBAL - A New York City court, overseeing the class action in the Parmalat case, has approved the $50m (€37m) partial legal settlement related to the Italian firm's 2003 collapse.

Credit Suisse Group and Banca Nazionale del Lavoro (BNL) are the first two defendants to settle in the ongoing securities class-action litigation in the US District Court in Manhattan.

However, "the prosecution of the litigation will continue to move forward against the other defendants", said Mark Willis, a partner at legal firm Cohen, Milstein, Hausfeld & Toll.

In May, European pension funds who bought Parmalat stock or bonds before December 19, 2003 were called to register any interest in receiving a payout from the partial settlement.

In return, those who have registered waived their right to sue BNL and the group known as Credit Suisse Defendants - the two parties sued for what shareholders see as their role in failing to prevent what they see as Parmalat's fraud.

Among the lead plaintiffs seeking a partial settlement were Hermes Focus Asset Management Europe, a division of Hermes Pensions Management.

Parmalat collapsed in December 2003 under about €14bn of debt, after it emerged a bank account supposedly worth €4bn did not exist, while shares in company were widely held.

Investors in the lawsuit accused the banks and others of helping Parmalat conceal its true financial state in an attempt to maintain lucrative business ties with the company.